Monday, August 02, 2010

What bait do I use to catch crayfish in Minnesota

I have posted a few times here about my obsession with Minnesota crayfish.  I've also introduced some friends to the idea that our freshwater crayfish are a tasty, yet underutilized resource.

A frequent question I get is, "What do you use for bait?"
Catfood works well, especially tuna or seafood catfood.  Just punch some holes in the can and put it in a crayfish trap.  I have found that a can of catfood can attract crayfish for up to 3 days.  The only problem to this approach is the expense.

A less expensive bait I often use are bullhead. Around here, bullhead are easy to catch. I'll go down to the dock and pull out about 20 bullheads. I'll usualy slice up about 3 per crayfish trap.  I can also freeze the extra bullheads for later use. Fresh or frozen seem to work about the same for me. Its a good way to help your lake, and the crayfish, since bullhead will eat crayfish.

Another question is, When can you catch crayfish in Minnesota?
The Minnesota crayfish season opens in April, and I have caught them right away in April. However, they seem most active when the water is warm.  I keep a thermometer hanging off our dock, and presently the water is about 80 degrees F, and crayfish are very active in my traps.  Although trap activity drops off as the water cools, I have caught them as late as November.

What kind of traps do I use?
I love the plastic "Trappy" traps that "Trapper Arne" imports from Sweden. They last a long time, are easy to store, and are lightweight. I use these much more than my heavy, rusty wire traps.

Where do I trap?
In my weedy lakes, I usually find crayfish near the shorelines. Deeper water trapping has not been very productive for me.  I usually look for a rocky shoreline, and put my traps into about 1 to 4 feet of water. I have not had much luck trapping in rivers, but I know there are crayfish in the rivers.

Good luck!

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